TORONTO — A new survey that includes input from Canadian and U.S. travel agents as they cope with the coronavirus pandemic throws into sharp relief the challenges facing the front-line travel trade as the crisis unfolds.
Destination rep DCI garnered feedback from some 457 agents in Canada and the U.S. The online survey was compiled this month as the pandemic’s impact to the travel industry quickly got real.
DCI says the series of online questions “was designed to take the temperature of advisors, offering insight into their needs and expectations during this global crisis.”
Asked in the survey, “What are the top three areas in which you currently are spending your working hours?”, agents in Canada reported…
84% Rescheduling client bookings
76% Reassuring clients booked on existing trips
35% Continuing education (webinars, specialist programs, etc)
26% Destination research
11% It’s business as usual for me and I continue to respond to client booking requests for future vacations
5% Home market sales calls with destination
2% Fam trips
Here are more of the findings from the DCI survey:
OPTIMISM ABOVE ALL
DCI says its survey shows that travel advisors in Canada and the U.S. are optimistic that there will be a return to “business as usual” in the near future.
CANCELLATIONS & RESCHEDULING
Not surprisingly DCI says survey responses show that the vast majority of travel advisors are reporting cancellations and a decline in future bookings. Rescheduling is happening for many according to 64% of advisors surveyed, and is occupying most of their time in both the Canadian and U.S. markets. “The focus in the short-term is dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus, while future prospects are not yet front-of-mind concerns,” notes DCI.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ON HOLD
DCI counsels supplier clients looking to conduct fam trips. Given the current situation, it will be May or June, at the very earliest, before agents say they would consider travelling internationally for fams, says DCI. Given how quickly the coronavirus is unfolding, that could be very subject to change.
CRUISE SHIP BOOKINGS
Some 87% of respondents reported an impact on cruise bookings. DCI says industry reports suggest a longer recovery period for the cruise industry. Marketing efforts will likely need to be doubled for cruise companies, especially after the overly negative press received during the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, says DCI.
A good number of agents responding to DCI’s survey (38%) say they are using this time to engage in professional education, including webinars and other educational outreach.
DCI says a silver lining is that 64% of advisors experienced clients looking to reschedule
their travel instead of just cancelling it, though it remains to be seen what this
translates to in terms of a market value.
Looking to long-term travel, 53% of advisors said they saw a decline in inquiries for 2021 trips, though DCI notes it remains too early to be able to gauge the exact impact that the coronavirus crisis will have on travel so far in the future.